United Auto Workers expanded its ongoing strikes against major automobile manufacturers Wednesday after a Ford truck plant in Kentucky joined the strike, the union announced,
About 8,700 workers from the company’s Truck Assembly Plant in Louisville, Kentucky — where F-250 and F-550 trucks are built as well as some SUVs — walked off the job in a surprise strike Wednesday. The facility is Ford’s largest and most profitable.
The union said that Ford has refused to negotiate further bargaining demands, resulting in the expanded strike.
The striking workers are demanding increased wages and improved working conditions in protracted negotiations with the “Big Three” automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. Strikes began last month and have slowly expanded, plant-by-plant, as the union hopes to increase pressure on the manufacturers to sign a union-friendly contract.
UAW President Shawn Fain said Ford “hasn’t gotten the message” about what workers want.
“If they can’t understand that after four weeks, the 8,700 workers shutting down this extremely profitable plant will help them understand it,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
Fain said that he sat down with Ford executives at the company’s headquarters earlier Wednesday and demanded a new offer. The company hinted it could include battery plants in a future union contract — a union win which GM agreed to last week — but Fain said there was no progress on economic terms with Ford.
He said the meeting only lasted about 15 minutes.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Ford called the strike expansion “grossly irresponsible” and representative of the union’s intent on “industrial chaos.”
Three union plants went on strike on Sept. 15, one from each company. Over 30 GM and Stellantis sites joined the strike a week later, with additional Ford plants going on strike at the end of September. Nearly 34,000 UAW workers are on strike nationwide.
The strikes have received support from the public and the Biden administration. A survey last month found that a majority of Americans back the strikes.
President Biden walked the picket line with striking workers near Detroit late last month, a first for a sitting president.
“Wall Street didn’t build the country. The middle class built the country. Unions built the middle class,” Biden said. “Let’s keep going; you deserve what you’ve earned, and you deserve a hell of a lot more than what you’re getting paid now.”